Bernard de Montfaucon (1655-1741) was a French Benedictine monk and
scholar who is best known for his work in Greek paleography. His
scientific approach to the study of the ancients is no more apparent than
in L'Antiquite Expliquee. Montfaucon's motivation in writing his work was
a systematic exposition of aspects of antiquity, specifically
'...only what may be the object of sight, and may be represented by
figures.' He spent 26 years, four of which were spent in Italy,
collecting material for this work. For a more complete biographical note see the entry in the online Catholic Encyclopedia.
Source of images for engravings in L'Antiquite Expliquee...
Montfaucon's work preceded by nearly two decades the opening of the first public art museum , the Capitoline Museum in Rome , by Pope Clement XII in 1737. So the 'Cabinets of the Curious' became a prime source of material. Alexander Maffei, a 'Gentleman to the Pope' undoubtedly provided drawings of sculpture in the Vatican collection which was not made public until 1767 with the foundation of the Profane Museum.
Particular mention is made of a Mr. Foucault, who 'hath made himself one of the finest cabinets in (France), perhaps in Europe,' who conributed 120 pieces to be copied. Dozens of other contributors are mentioned including other scholars and antiquarians who lent Montfaucon manuscripts of earlier authors' works, like thoses of Boissard and the architect Serlio.